An early identification of Alzheimer’s disease may be possible according to new research from Tel Aviv University. According to a recent study, increased activity in the hippocampus during anaesthesia and sleep, caused by a breakdown in the process that stabilises the neural network, can lead to an early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, which can be prevented. Doctoral students Daniel Zarhin and Refaela Atsmon from Tel Aviv University’s Sagol School of Neuroscience and Sackler Faculty of Medicine led the study.

Using Alzheimer’s animal models, the researchers focused on the hippocampus area of the brain, which is critical to memory and is known to be affected in Alzheimer’s patients. Brain activity was measured while animals were awake, asleep, and anaesthetized.

Amyloid deposits, a characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease pathology, are created in the patients’ brains as early as 10-20 years before the beginning of typical symptoms including memory loss and cognitive decline, according to newly developed imaging technology. Unfortunately, the majority of attempts to treat Alzheimer’s disease by reducing the number of amyloid-beta proteins and their aggregation have been ineffective. As a researcher, I would be thrilled if we were able to diagnose the disease at its pre-symptomatic stage and keep it dormant for many years. To treat Alzheimer’s, we need to find a signature of abnormal brain activity at the pre-symptomatic stage, according to Slutsky, who made this assertion in a press release.

In the early stages of the condition, this form of anesthesia-induced abnormal brain activity may assist regulate brain function, according to the study. “Epilepsy has been recognised to cause the instability in neuronal activity that we observed in this work. Activating a homeostatic mechanism that lowers the set point of brain activity was discovered to aid epilepsy patients in a previous investigation of a multiple sclerosis treatment. According to Slutsky, doctoral student Shiri Shoob studied the drug’s effect on hippocampus activity in an Alzheimer’s disease animal model and discovered that it also stabilised activity and reduced abnormal behaviour.

To see if the pathways uncovered in animal models can also be identified in individuals with early-stage Alzheimer’s disease, researchers plan to engage with medical centres throughout the world, including in Israel.